Dean Boland, an Ohio lawyer who recently abandoned representing Paul Ceglia, the man who sued Facebook for half of the company, was held liable on Friday by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court Court of Appeals to follow a lower court order imposing a fine of $300,000 upon him.
The fine was imposed in relation to child pornography charges that stemmed from Bolan’s attempts to convince a court in a child pornography trial, how it was impossible to tell a doctored image from an original one. In his work as expert witness in 2004, Boland downloaded stock images of two children and digitally manipulated them to make it appear they were engaging in sexual acts.
Though Bolan’s work was done in an effort to prove a point to court, the FBI held that Bolan had broken the law by downloading images of children and creating images of child pornography. According to federal child pornography laws, the possession of images “created, adapted or modified” to exhibit an ‘identifiable’ minor engaging in sexual acts is illegal, though the same act does not ban images that are entirely computer-generated.
In 2007, the parents of the children in the stock photos sued Boland under the federal child pornography laws. The lawsuit was initially dismissed with the judge finding that expert witnesses were shielded from liability under law.
However, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the decision of the lower court and sent the case back to the lower court. The district judge awarded $150,000 to each child.
Boland appealed against that decision, but on Friday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Boland and upheld the damages award. Writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote, “When he created morphed images, he intended to help criminal defendants, not harm innocent children … Yet his actions did harm children, and Congress has shown that it means business in addressing this problem by creating sizeable damages awards for victims of this conduct.”
The court noted that besides the existence of the morphed images hurting the emotions of the children, Boland could have made his point by either manipulating the photos of real adults, or by using pictures of children entirely generated by computer – in which case, there would have been no issue with federal law.
The child pornography case is Doe et al v. Boland, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-4237.